I’m hesitant to call parts of Ménilmontant brilliant. There are some great moments, with amazing composition and editing, but there are also some painfully pedestrian ones. If those sequences were the only problem, I suppose I would. But director Kirsanoff also displays an abject lack of self-awareness.
Ménilmontant concerns two sisters, Nadia Sibirskaïa and Yolande Beaulieu, who move to Paris from the countryside. There they grow apart, though they live together, as Sibirskaïa meets a young man. He seduces her and then turns out to be a cad, going after Beaulieu as well.
So the city life corrupts these young women’s innocence.
Except, of course, Ménilmontant opens with their parents falling victim, quite literally, to an axe murderer. The countryside isn’t much better. But Kirsanoff seems completely unaware. The beginning, actually, feels tacked on.
Sadly, the final third is all melodrama.
Sibirskaïa’s good, except for the melodrama.
Written, edited, produced and directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff; directors of photography, Léonce Crouan and Kirsanoff.
Starring Nadia Sibirskaïa (Younger Sister), Yolande Beaulieu (Older Sister) and Guy Belmont (Young Man).